FOOTBALL TAB -- Goldsboro preview
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 19, 2010 2:23 PM
Eric Reid is great proof that author Thomas Wolfe was wrong.
You can go home again.
The Goldsboro High alum enjoyed his most-successful season on the sidelines in 2009. The Cougars claimed the Carolina 1-A Conference championship and lost to perennial power Southwest Onslow in the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional final.
It was an eye-opening defeat.
"I didn't think we prepared as well as I thought we did," said Reid. "We weren't mentally fit. We were jacked up until we stepped onto that (sloppy) field. My kids' demeanor dropped and to be honest, mine dropped.
"I have to blame myself because I'm a leader. I told my kids in the locker room after the game that I'm taking responsibility for the loss."
Reid learned something else, too.
He and his staff focused on getting the linemen in better shape during the offseason. He stressed the importance of teaching the second- and third-string players, and for them to be accountable for their position and what they bring to the table.
"It was like putting a country boy in California for the first time," laughed Reid. "Now that I've been there, I know where to go and where to eat at, and we'll handle the city better this time. We learned as a staff and a team."
Goldsboro returns 18 starters off last year's team that posted a program-best 12 victories. The Cougars captured their second conference championship during Reid's tenure, and made their first regional title-game appearance since 2002.
That's not to mention promoting several players off last year's JV team, which won the mythical Wayne County title and Carolina crown, to the varsity level.
"It's a beautiful situation, no doubt," grinned Reid.
Three preseason all-state candidates return -- seniors Freddie Jones (5-foot-9, 200), Andre Montgomery (5-9, 222) and Jarran Reed. Jones and Montgomery ranked among the county's and area's top rushers with a combined 3,422 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2009.
Jones is fully recovered from a left knee injury that required micro-fracture surgery in the offseason. Orthopedists in Chapel Hill cleaned up the scar tissue and have cleared Jones to play.
Reed recorded 157 stops and five sacks.
"Freddie has bulked up and that's going to be a load coming at you," said Reid. "Andre had a great summer, and the only thing that wore him out was he attended a lot of combines and football camps. Reed has really been a senior leader for our linemen.
"Our leaders are pushing our younger guys. They have stepped up to answer the call this summer and will be one of the contributing factors to our season."
Reid and his coaching staff have added a few wrinkles to their bruising running game this season. They've changed a few positions to better suit their personnel on both sides of the ball.
Opponents can expect to see a more-aggressive style of play and hopefully better coverage, which was a weakness at times last season.
"When we were doing defensive drills in practice and working on alleys, they were getting the concept of reading and getting where they needed to be," said Reid. "We're really teaching our linemen to stay low and understand their role on the line. That's going to be a plus in our defensive scheme."
Goldsboro opens its season Friday at New Hanover. The Cougars are favored to repeat as Carolina champions, but Reid isn't viewing the big picture -- yet.
"We have to stay focused, continue to hit the iron throughout the season, get better every day and learn the game," said Reid.
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